By Hilary White

  PRETORIA, November 30, 2006 ( – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Vice President of South Africa has, in President Thabo Mbeki’s absence, signed the bill that makes that country one of only a handful around the world to abolish the legal definition of natural marriage in order to include homosexual partners.

  The Civil Union Act changes the country’s definition of marriage from a union of one man and one woman, to a “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union.” The Act comes into effect today.

“The act is in line with the constitutional court judgment … which found that the common law definition of marriage in the Marriage Act, 1961, is inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” said the presidential office statement.

  A homosexual lobby group, Joint Working Group, said, “The use of the word ‘marriage’ in the act is very important for us.”

  Despite its strongly conservative and Christian culture, South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution includes a clause making discrimination based on sexual identity illegal. A different law allows homosexual couples to adopt children.

  With the new law, South Africa becomes the first in Africa to join those countries around the world that have either allowed legally equivalent “civil unions” or simply abolished their previous one-man/one-woman definitions.

  These include Denmark (1989), Norway, Sweden and Iceland (1996), Finland, Netherlands (2001), Argentina and Belgium (2003), Luxembourg and New Zealand (2004), Canada and Spain (2005) and five states in the US.

  In addition, Germany began in 2001 to allow homosexual couples to register as “life partners” under which they share inheritance rights with married couples.

  In 1999, France introduced a civil contract giving some of the rights of marriage to cohabiting couples regardless of sex. In 2004, when a French mayor attempted to conduct the country’s first homosexual “marriage,” a court declared it to be null.

  In Britain, in December 2005, same-sex partners in “registered partnerships” were granted similar rights to married couples.

  Nearly all the countries that have installed homosexual “marriage” or legal equivalences are also among those suffering from the most serious demographic crises with extremely low birth rates, high rates of divorce, abortion, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

  South Africa prides itself since the end of apartheid on being among the most “progressive” countries in Africa. It also suffers a comparatively low fertility rate of 2.2 children born per woman and a population growth rate of -0.4%.

  South Africa Upper House says Yes to Homosexual “Marriage”